Chance sentenced to 5 years
LOVINGTON — Eunice resident Samantha Chance made an emotional statement on her own behalf before Fifth Judicial District Judge Gary Clingman Monday afternoon and was then sentenced to five years in prison for her second-degree murder conviction in Hobbsan Kasey Poole’s death.
Chance, 26, appeared in court wearing bright orange following her transport from the Lea County Detention Center and broke down while addressing Cling-man at sentencing. She was flanked by her defense attorney Barry Crutchfield as she spoke for more than two minutes. First Judicial Assistant District Attorney Blake Nichols, a prosecutor at trial, had asked earlier for the maximum sentence be imposed, while Crutchfield discussed a motion for a new trial, how Chance has no prior criminal record and asked Clingman to look at the “totality” of the facts in the case before calling it a tragedy.
A Lea County jury found her guilty of second-degree murder for Poole’s shooting death in Eunice after a week-long trial held April 9 to April 13. On Feb. 10, 2016, Eunice police and EMS personnel responded to a residence in the 1300 block of 14th Street, which was Chance’s home, and located Poole, 30, suffering from gunshot wounds inside. She was later pronounced dead. It was testified at trial that Poole was Chance’s then-boyfriend’s ex-wife. They are now engaged.
“I don’t have a criminal record,” Chance said to the judge. “I don’t have a criminal record because I don’t bother people. I don’t hurt people. I mind my own business.”
She disputed the prosecution’s assertion that she lacked remorse, noting she helped plan Poole’s funeral and said she hates that “she’s not here anymore.” An emotional Chance was hard to understand during some parts of her statement but said she didn’t want the children to not have a mother, after explaining Poole’s children had asked her to be their mother.
“…and right now, they don’t have one at all,” she said.
Chance continued that she wants to go back home and go back to work.
“…and I hate what happened,” she concluded. “I only did what I did because I didn’t feel I had a choice.”
Clingman sentenced her to 15 years that’s enhanced by one year for use of a firearm, which he said will all be suspended “except for five years.” He also ordered it to be followed by five years of supervised probation. Second-degree murder carries a penalty of up to 15 years of imprisonment. He also made a “serious violent offense” finding, according to Nichols, meaning Chance must serve at least 85 percent of her sentence.
“As I said earlier, this is a tragedy, but we are somewhat pleased that the sentence was what it was,” Crutchfield said after the hearing. “But we feel the case of the state has some severe deficiencies. We have filed a motion for new trial and we are awaiting a ruling on that.”
An appeal bond for Chance was denied.
“He denied the appeal bond. … Depending on the results of the motion for new trial, we’ll have to take that up with the court of appeal,” Crutchfield said.
The state and defense presented evidence and many witnesses at trial, who ranged from family members to first responders, crime scene investigators and forensic experts. The state rested its case on April 12 and Clingman threw out first-degree murder, proceeding on second-degree murder.
A forensic pathologist, Dr. Karen Cline-Parhamovich of the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator, testified that Poole’s cause of death was “multiple gunshot wounds of the head and torso” and she had a blood alcohol level of 0.17. Meanwhile, New Mexico State Police agent Kevin Massis told jurors that, in his opinion, Poole was lying on the ground when she was shot five times, which Chance denied on the witness stand. On the defense’s side, Crutch-field argued Chance acted in self-defense during a home invasion and assault by Poole, who had driven there drunk from Hobbs.
The prosecution described that the Pooles and Chance were in a “love triangle.” Trial testimony covered the Pooles’ relationship in detail and an altercation between Russell Poole and Daniel Willis, formerly of Hobbs, who was Kasey Poole’s boyfriend at the time. The altercation before the shooting and Kasey Poole drove to Chance’s home at some point afterward.
Nichols, who prosecuted with Fifth Judicial ADA Jessy Marquez, gave a lengthy statement Monday after Chance’s sentencing.
“The facts, not speculation or conjecture, presented in this case left a jury of the defendant’s peers, drawn from our community, with no reasonable doubt that defendant murdered Kasey Poole in February of 2016,” he stated. “After reviewing the evidence in this case, including ballistics, blood spatter, wound paths and other physical evidence — presented by both sides — and after hearing defendant’s claims about the events of that fateful night, the jury found defendant guilty of second degree murder for killing Kasey Poole. The jury found that defendant knew that her actions created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm, that she did not act as a result of sufficient provocation, and that defendant specifically did not act in self-defense or defense of her home even in light of the law that would not have required defendant to retreat in legitimate use of self-defense.”
Nichols continued that:
“We, of course, believe that the defendant’s conduct in murdering the mother of two young children warrants a significant prison sentence and, accordingly, the state asked the court to impose the maximum of 16 years in prison. The court heard from the state and defense and reviewed letters from family and friends on both sides before sentencing defendant to 5 years in prison with an additional 5 years of probation upon release.”
He concluded by stating that “while no amount of incarceration is ever going to bring Ms. Poole back to her family,” they hope Monday’s sentence brings them “some much needed closure.” He additionally thanked investigators on the case.
“We thank all involved law enforcement, and the unbiased forensic experts who reviewed the physical evidence, for ensuring that the facts prevailed in this case,” Nichols stated.